Ice Network

Donovan: World championships fashion podiums

Chen, Wagner earn high marks in Helsinki; Gilles, Poirier win 'Weir Award'
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Nathan Chen and Ashley Wagner may not have delivered their best performances in Helsinki, but the American skaters landed on Sam Donovan's fashion podium for their outstanding costume selections. -Getty Images

Well, we made it, and as we've learned this year, all is well when a Russian wins a competition in foreign territory. I've mulled through the newcomers to see if there was anything that could challenge the established great (and greatly amusing) looks of the season, but as it is written, once you go Lennox, you never go back.

So, this might as well serve as a "best of" for the 2016-17 season. Have a great summer, y'all...and let's pray that Anna Pogorilaya can outdo herself come October.


GOLD - Ashley Wagner (SP)

Oh, come on, like you didn't know this was coming. I have debated who my favorite skater is for a while now -- Tara Lipinski is generally my default, with Kristi Yamaguchi, Michelle Kwan and Surya Bonaly alternating -- but I think I may have finally found a soul sister in Ashley's non-conformism. It's been an honor to watch her blossom from a trepidatious ingénue to a true artist.

Medvedeva can rack up all the golds she wants, but Wagner is a cold, hard diva the figure skating world will remember for years to come. She is a feminist pioneer in a sport that just allowed females to wear pants in competition.

And, yes, this has been a discussion of how epic it is that she killed this Eurythmics/Beyoncé fantasy wonderment all year. Legendary costuming.

SILVER - Kaetlyn Osmond (SP)

Kaetlyn gave Ashley a serious run for her money this year with her Édith Piaf-Marais-cafe-residency look. I didn't realize that it had only netted bronze on my podium thus far, so I suppose it's a fitting championship for which to upgrade her to silver. Congrats on the look (and the medal), Kaetlyn!

BRONZE - Karen Chen (SP)

Glorious in all ways, Karen Chen definitely established herself as the one to watch in figure skating this year, but I'll be curious to see if this kid can match her own sartorial splendor in the coming years. Is this classic ingénue? Yes. But I've rarely seen it done better than this -- and as my father likes to say, if you're going to play, play to win.

HONORABLE MENTION - Evgenia Medvedeva (SP)

I'm occasionally too harsh on Medvedeva, so let me just say that she's been a joy to watch this season in this glowing, glimmering and glacially graceful number. Prettiest dress of the year, hands down.

WEIR OF THE YEAR - Anna Pogorilaya (FS)

I feel bad that she had to end such a bang-up season with such a disastrous free skate, so let me just say this: Anna, you deserve better. Find a drag queen -- they'll hook you up.


GOLD - Nathan Chen (FS)

Chen may not have lived up to the excellence we've become accustomed to seeing from him this season, but this costume still rises above the rest of the men's field, unparalleled in its excellence, just like his quad abilities. I notice something new and beautiful about this look every time I see it, and being his last time in it (competitively anyway), I took the opportunity to simply marvel at the contrasting textures in the bodice. Simply and stunningly beautiful.

SILVER - Yuzuru Hanyu (SP)

Frankly, Elvis wishes. John Travolta wishes. Prince wishes. Well, y'all: Wish granted.

BRONZE - Alexei Bychenko (SP)

I may never fully grasp the westernized spelling of his name, but I will always understand how genuinely hot it is that he exposes his forearm tattoos in this steampunk-meets-Green Day eleganza. For a sport that has taken an unfortunate turn for perfection over performance, these minute details of individuality and artistry really stand out.


This is a subtle look, for sure, but Brendan has simply looked polished and effortless all season. As a side note, I would have included Alexander Petrov's gold sequin le smoking, but he skated at the junior level this year.

WEIR OF THE YEAR - Anyone wearing Tron pajamas, and in this case, Boyang Jin

It's the new "cater-waiter" in men's figure skating fashion, and it needs to stop. If you can shrink your figure skating costume down, sew footies on it and successfully market it in a Sears juniors catalog, you need to burn it.

Oh, and this "dress like you work the stock room shift at Old Navy" trend I'm starting to see blossom up? In the wise words of Coco Montrese, don't try it, little boy[s].


GOLD - Vanessa James/Morgan Ciprès (SP)

I swear to you, the most difficult category to assess this year has been pairs, because there have been so many stunning costumes at every competition and I should have been awarding honorable mentions all year. But if I have to pick an absolute best of the season, it's easily Vanessa and Morgan, who have looked immaculate, fashion forward and gloriously cohesive all season.

Morgan's look -- while a stand-out on its own -- still smartly defers to Vanessa's stunner of a dress, which is the best costume in the category, and up there with Wagner and Chen overall. I'm sad to see these looks go.

SILVER - Xiaoyu Yu/Hao Zhang (FS)

Yu and Zhang just missed the top place on my podium this year, but Vanessa's look was simply a once-in-a-lifetime-type stunner. Still, the couture-ness of these two should rightfully go down as one of the most striking looks of the year. The amount of detail in Xiaoyu's dress alone is breathtaking, although that's not to take away from the subtle intricacies in Hao's jacket. Just gorgeous.

BRONZE - Natalia Zabijako/Alexander Enbert (FS)

Alas, there's always one mismatched pairing where the girl really carries her man, but honestly, I'm not mad at Alexander for letting Natalia shine, especially since her dress is nothing short of gorgeous. I still maintain that she should have it remade into a gown and show up at the Oscars; I doubt they'd even think twice about letting her on the red carpet.

HONORABLE MENTION - Sumire Suto/Francis Boudreau-Audet (SP)

Honestly, there are better looks I could have put in their place -- and the omission of Cheng and Yang at worlds genuinely hurts me -- but I can't think of a duo that I was more charmed by this year in terms of sheer costuming symbiosis.

WEIR OF THE YEAR - Nicole Della Monica/Matteo Guarise (SP)

I've long said that in the world of figure skating, Russians are gonna Russian, but lest we forget that Italians are just as likely to Italian, something Nicole and Matteo are here to remind us of.


GOLD - Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (SD & FD)

Just to clarify how I feel about Gabriella and Guillaume's legitimately perfect free dance getting robbed of its rightful place at the top of the world podium, I'm giving their looks a tie for gold. And yes, I know that they did win the night, and yes, I know Tessa and Scott killed their short, but watching them all year has been an absolute joy for me. I've read that Guillaume creates and/or designs all of their costumes, and if that's true, I'm astounded. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

Oh, and Guillaume, I'm here to take that jacket off your hands anytime.

SILVER - Madison Chock/Evan Bates (FD)

I have to give it to these kids: The mid-season change from all black to Madison's fabulously glittering, grape-colored gown was a stunning shift that completely elevated the aesthetic nature of their performance. The contrasting hues of the dress really set off the sensuality of their routine, and the dress on its own is well designed -- provocative and elegant all at once.

BRONZE - Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (SD)

If anyone had a cuter retro vibe this season, I didn't see it. I still love how Anna's dress flutters and flounces when she spins and shimmies, and despite it being an intense color, I think Luca's jacket really helps to set it off.

HONORABLE MENTION - Charlène Guignard/Marco Fabbri (FD)

I'm in a sentimental mood today, so this throwback to my Skate America pewter medalists seems like a good way to end my honorable mentions. Again, there's a sweetly symbiotic relationship between these two that elevates their performance and makes it all the more captivating.

WEIR OF THE YEAR - Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier (SD & FD)

To prove that my Weir Award is nothing to cry over, I submit my final broadcast distinction to these dragtastic Canadians. There's something a little too costume about the way they articulate themselves sartorially for me to consider them for the main podium, but I will take these over the sloppy attempts at a nondescript elegance so many skaters resort to. Evita drag is (unsurprisingly) good for Gilles and Poirier.

And that's that. Suddenly, late October can't come soon enough!